A few days ago, we were driving from Logan to Lagoon. At one point a car went bombing pat me like a crazy- I am guessing 15-20 over the speed limit, and weaving through traffic. I noticed the driver was female, and quite unconsciously said to myself. "Yep, another crazy female driver". I immediately began cataloging the many times I had in experienced rude, selfish , inconsiderate drivers who completely disregarded the law and the safety of others- nearly all were female.
Then my nerdy, logical, critical thinking persona kicked in. "Really?" it said. "Is that really true?". So I paid close attention for the next several minutes to every reckless, self-absorbed driver. More men than women. Now with critical thinker in full swing, I still could not draw any conclusions, because I was also aware that there were more men driving, and I had no idea what the normalized ratios were.
(if there were 2 crazy men for every 1 crazy woman, and as many male drivers as female drivers, then the normalized ratio is 2:1, therefore more men are crazy drivers, if however there were 4 times as many male drivers as female drivers, then the normalized ratio is 1:2 and more women are crazy drivers. See how that works?)
But it did give me a moments pause.Why was it that I remembered mostly bad women drivers? Why did I unconsciously see, bad female drivers? I had heard a few jokes about women drivers growing up, but enough to so completely condition me? Decades later? No, I don't think it is that simple. While that "humor" may have help construct the Filter initially, something was still reinforcing that filter.
Yesterday, I saw a blurb about Emma Watson speaking before the UN regarding a "#heforshe" campaign, and as I read it, I had an epiphany of sorts, An observation occurred to me. That movements like Feminism, Black pride, and so forth, no matter how good their intentions may be, they are in fact a part of the problem, rather than the solution. You see the very names they give these movements, organizations, inherently (unintentionally I am sure, but nonetheless) invoke, "us vs. them". You see you are measuring equality compared to ... what? Women's rights compared to men's rights. Black rights compared to white rights. It is inherent in the very name of the organization. And that alone creates a filter. If you are in favor of a particular "female equality movement", or "<insert race > equality movement" you tend to notice all of the injustices, and are quite blind to all the evidence which suggests otherwise. If you are on the other side of the debate, you easily recall statistics showing that female executives earn more than their comparable male counterparts, but seem oblivious to many atrocities committed against women worldwide.
And speaking of statistics. Both sides of the argument have their very own sets of numbers, and arsenal of anecdotes, and both sides are quite confident that the other sides numbers are inaccurate or even fallacious, and that anecdotal ratios are 100:1, 1000:1 or even greater in their favor.
Us vs. them. The filters are firmly in place. Just why is it that we are worried about violence against women? And how it compares to violence against men? Aren't they both equally bad? Shouldn't we be working to eliminate violence, period? How messed up are we that we instead invest our time in keeping tallies?
I remember hearing in the news when Obama was elected, that is was a great stride forward, a victory for racial equality.I remember thinking "No it isn't. If anything, it is a step backward." the very act of the media calling attention to his race was the evidence of that. It would only have been a victory, if no one had taken notice of his race.
Think it isn't relevant? Think that we "Have to do something?" That was the argument that was used to push emissions legislation through in Utah recently - legislation which will cost millions to implement, and which will - according to the numbers gathered by those in favor of the legislation - do almost nothing. It will make a less than 1% difference in the pollution problem. Millions for a less than one percent gain. Money that could have been used to feed countless families, or invested in R&D to find a real, practical solution the problem. But no. With filters firmly in place, we forged ahead, driven by our emotions and our anecdotes. Sometimes, maybe it is better to Do nothing now, than to Do something stupid now.
So here's an idea, instead of pledging to seek fairness for <insert race, gender, religion, etc...>, how about we pledge to be nice to everyone, and support and defend any individual who is being mistreated, without worrying about their gender, race, skin color, religion, or shoe size?
"Charity is .... resisting the impulse to categorize others."
-Thomas S. Monson